What is it?

Instagram is a photo and video sharing platform.  The social network crossed the digital era with the old school feel of a Polaroid by using distinctive square shaped photos. With a 30 hashtag limit and plenty of space to write, it enables users to overcome the restrictions of other platforms, like Twitter, by sharing both visual and written content both publicly and privately.

Instagram can be viewed on desktop, however you can only post from mobile devices.

The Rules

How it works

  • Take a picture/video
  • Edit it with filters or other tools provided
  • Write a caption with relevant hashtags
  • Add a location (optional)
  • Post

Filters and Editing

Instagram has 27 filters that range from black and white to colour enhanced images – complete with vignettes. You can also control the ‘LUX’ (contrast and exposure slider) and/or edit the image yourself by using the 12 control tools provided. This includes image adjustment, contrast and colour saturation.


Instagram videos have recently been increased to 60 seconds in length. If you are uploading one from your phone, you are giving the option to essentially crop the video by using the sliders. After you have the right segment, you can edit the video as if it were a photo.

Hashtags and Geotags

Both the hashtag and the geotag are essentially locaters. People searching for certain topics and might stumble upon your posts if it is relevant to their search.

Likes, Comments and Sharing

Similarly to Facebook, you can like and comment on other people’s pictures. You cannot directly share someone’s image on your own profile, but you can share it to other social media outlets or copy the URL to send to a friend.

Instagram Direct

Instagram Direct was a 2013 update that allowed users to directly message other users privately. It is the instant messaging version of Instagram that can have multiple users in a conversation.

The User

Instagram has over 400 million monthly users of which 75 million are daily contributors. 30% of total accounts are inactive. There is only a slight majority of male users at 51%. The user age is primarily millenials with 90% of Instagram users being Under 35s and 41% of all users being aged between 16 to 24.

There are an estimated 2.69 posts per day per profile. That’s about 37,660,000 posts per day in the UK alone. Active users produce 8,500 likes per second and 1,000 comments per second. Users tend to interact more with photos as they generate 36% more likes than videos.

In terms of brand engagement, 85% of the top brands are on Instagram and their per-follower engagement rate is 58 times higher than on Facebook and 120 times higher than on Twitter. That is a highly interactive audience if you ask me.

Campaign Ideas

Campaign ideas need to be innovative and have a strong angle. Although I have not included it below, GoPro’s Instagram account is definitely one to learn from. To get your creativity going, check out the following campaigns.

Starbucks #redcupcontest Campaign

Starbucks, the coffee giant, always releases brilliantly creative campaigns that completely take over Instagram during ‘contest’ periods. To celebrate the winter festivities, Starbucks launched the #redcupcontest for the second year running. The contest consists of getting a Starbucks’ red cup and instagramming a creative picture with it for the chance to win $500.

The result: To enter the contest, you had to buy a Starbucks drink. Over 40,000 entries were counted which not only created an online buzz about the brand, but also meant over 40,000 hot drinks were bought in the process. Genius.

Take a look at the #whitecupcontest too for some fantastic arty user generated content.

Ted Baker #Pinch_Me Campaign

Ted Baker, the fashion label, took Instagram filters to a whole new level. To promote their SS15 collection, they posted 15 photos with secret messages in them. The caption consisted of a riddle of sorts with missing words. This led the user to screenshot the image and apply different filters on it. One of the filters would reveal scrambled letters in the photo which the user than had to rearrange to fit the original riddle. Celebrities and high profile influencers jumped onboard which heightened the level of exposure.

Ted Baker Pinch Campaign

The result: 7.3 million impressions were generated and 685 unique people posted about the original 15 photos that went up. Beautiful use of gamification.

 McDonald’s Singapore Comic Book Campaign

Steering away from the generic food posts, McDonald’s Singapore generated an Instagram comic book style campaign. Illustrators altered the photos by hand, giving the stereotypical product images an injection of life.

McDonald's Singapore cartoon campaign

The result: Huge awareness boost and quality entertainment for their followers.

Paypal #Paypalit Campaign

With no physical product and a host of stock images used across their website, Paypal had very little to contribute to Instagram. Then they introduced the #Paypalit campaign. The campaign was purely user generated, giving snapshots into how paypal was integrated into everyday life.

PayPal – The Picture of Success – Case Study from Edelman West on Vimeo.

The result: Paypal was completely humanised resulting in a significant increase of followers and awareness

Game of Thrones

When Game of Thrones (GoT) were leading up to Season 3, they used Funko figurines to re-enact popular GoT scenes, had actors posing with them and used them to promote events. This highly amusing way of communicating to a mass audience had both the keen GoT fanatics and the casual watchers enthralled. They have continued this campaign with all GoT episodes.

The result: The profile hit over 132k followers and over 500k likes. They managed to expand their audience to the mainstream by finding a fun way to communicate through Instagram.


To round it all up, here are the highlights of this month’s Social Media Toolbox.

Instagram infographic on user behaviour